Life upended for Americans as U.S. scrambles to contain coronavirus threat

by Theleaders-Online | March 13, 2020 1:43 am

NEW YORK/WASHINGTON: From Disneyland to the U.S. Supreme Court, from Wall Street to Dodgers Stadium, nearly every facet of American life fell into turmoil on Thursday as the coronavirus outbreak caused sweeping closures and economic disruption.

As concern grew over a rapid spread of the sometimes-fatal COVID-19 respiratory illness caused by the virus, the U.S. stock market cratered anew, professional and college sports leagues suspended play, Broadway theaters went dark and many schools from Ohio to Texas shuttered.

The unprecedented cascade of shutdowns reflected growing fears that the outbreak of the highly contagious pathogen, which has already killed at least 40 people in the United States, could race out of control unless authorities squelch large public gatherings.

As companies locked their offices and dispatched employees to work from home, fears of a recession rose in step with the number of U.S. infections, which jumped to more than 1,300 on Thursday. The concerns were reflected in U.S. stock markets, with major indexes now in bear-market territory – down at least 20% from their recent high.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a state of emergency, granting him new powers as the number of confirmed cases rose to 95 cases in the nation’s most populous city.

“We are getting into a situation where the only analogy is war and a wartime dynamic,” de Blasio said, referring to an expected surge in demand for hospital beds.

From California to New York, officials banned large gatherings and closed museums and other institutions without saying how long the directives would stay in place, compounding the uncertainty.

After the Trump administration imposed sweeping restrictions on air travel between the United States and Europe, Gabriella Ribeiro, a Wayne, New Jersey-based travel consultant, said she was fielding a flood of panicked calls from customers.

“We call it the ‘C’ word,” Ribeiro said of coronavirus. “We’ve been through Ebola and SARS, but I haven’t seen this level of panic among travelers since 9/11.”- Reuters

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